Leave it to Cleaver - TE

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    Martinez, Cleaver, Floyd play final game
    By Felix Chavez/Sun-News Reporter LAS CRUCES - There are 22 New Mexico State seniors that will say goodbye tonight at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
    Article Launched: 11/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

    LAS CRUCES - There are 22 New Mexico State seniors that will say goodbye tonight at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

    But three of them - Mike Martinez, Nick Cleaver and Dante Floyd - will undoubtedly leave their mark on the NMSU football program.

    The 6-foot-4 Martinez, who hails from Aurora, Colo., has started 48 straight games for the Aggies at center and at left offensive tackle. He played the first two years primarily at center before moving over to left tackle as a junior.

    "I've had a great experience here at NMSU and I tried to help others on the line get better and hopefully I set a good example while I was here," Martinez said. "Every year I tried to get better. I tried to be as versatile as I could during my career. I've enjoyed the move to left tackle, I liked the different responsibility."

    The 48 straight starts on the offensive line shows just how consistent and fundamentally sound Martinez has been during his career. And he's been fortunate enough to have stayed healthy.

    "I've always tried to be as fundamentally sound as possible," Martinez said. "Consistency is always something that I have tried to strive for."

    Martinez helped the Aggies finish third in the nation in total offense as a junior and 24th in the



    nation in passing as a sophomore.
    "Mike has really worked hard to improve each year and he's worked on being in better shape as well," NMSU head coach Hal Mumme said. "NFL scouts ask abut him and he's got a shot at the next level."

    Martinez believes if he does get a chance at the next level, it could be at the left guard spot.

    "After the season is over, I'd like to get that chance at the next level," Martinez said. "I have to work hard and we'll see where it goes. I just want that opportunity to prove myself. But I want very much to end my college career at NMSU with a win, it would mean a great deal to me."

    The linebacker Floyd has been a mainstay for the Aggies in his two years. A year after collecting 66 tackles as a junior, he leads the team in tackles this year with 115 heading into tonight's game against Fresno State.

    Floyd has been steady and plays with a great deal of energy and he has drawn some interest from professional scouts said Mumme.

    But for Floyd it isn't just about numbers, it's about the team and playing to win.

    "I don't worry about the amount of tackles I might get," Floyd said. "I just want to help our team get better and I want to win. I want to help us against Fresno State and a win would be a tremendous way to go out. It's been a good couple of years here, I've had fun and I've made a lot of friends. We've competed as hard as we could."

    Floyd said he would like to get a crack in one of the many professional football leagues, but if that doesn't work out, he'd like to go back home to California to help coach young kids in the game of football.

    "I'd love to give back one day to the community I grew up in," Floyd said. "A lot of people have helped me along the way."

    Cleaver came to NMSU in 2003 and former head coach Tony Samuel was high on the San Diego, Calif., native. The only question was where to play him. He started out on the defensive side of the ball as a safety, but wasn't making much noise on that side of the field.

    Then as a redshirt sophomore in 2005, the decision was made to move the 6-foot-4, 241-pounder to tight end. It turned out to be a wise move.
    In his first game at tight end against Hawaii, he caught eight passes for 103 yards an a touchdown. He went on to catch 16 balls that year.

    Last year, Cleaver caught 50 passes for 684 yards and this year, his numbers are down to 30 catches due in large part to a bad ankle sprain that has limited his time on the field.

    "That first game as a tight end against Hawaii really stands out," Cleaver said. "It was a great experience for me. The decision was made for me to make the move and what a first game. It just worked out that I got a lot of balls thrown to me that day. I've really enjoyed playing on offense. I've been able to make plays and help the team. I've always tried to give the best I can out on the football field. The final game of my career is special. I'm glad the game is at home, I'd love to go out with a victory."

    Because of the move to offense, Cleaver has drawn attention from NFL scouts. He hopes to play the tight end spot or the H-back position.
    "After the season is over, I hope to get with an agent and we'll go from there," Cleaver said. "If I get that chance to earn a spot in the NFL, that would be a dream come true. I just want the opportunity to compete against the best."

    When Cleaver has been healthy, he's been consistent. For example, last year he had nine games with four receptions and was fourth on the team in receptions.

    "Nick has a chance at the next level," Mumme said. "He's another one of our kids that NFL scout ask about a great deal. He's got good size and he's developed into a solid player for us."

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